Delivering the commencement address to the 2005 class of Auburn University in Alabama, Vice President Dick Cheney revealed he wasn't the sharpest tool in the college shed.
Cheney earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wyoming.
"My college experience, though, began at a place called Yale," the vice president informed graduates. "Actually, instead, I dropped out after a few semesters. Actually, dropped out isn't quite accurate - was 'asked to leave' would be more like it. Twice. And the second time around, they said, 'Don't come back.'"
Friday wasn't the most comfortable of days for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, who picked the wrong street to park his sport utility vehicle and the wrong store to buy his shoes - just below the offices of Americans United to Protect Social Security.
Brad Woodhouse, the group's communications director, says that while the Republican leader was sizing up his shoes at Allen-Edmonds (he purchased two pairs for $530), as many as 50 protesters opposing President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security quickly organized outside.
"Senator Frist, don't privatize," they chanted on the sidewalk for 40 minutes while Frist tried on various shoes.
To make matters worse, the District of Columbia's most efficient government agency - its parking-enforcement bureau - soon arrived and slapped a pink ticket on Frist's windshield for parking his SUV illegally and blocking traffic.
"I hope his shoes fit comfortably," Woodhouse told The Beltway Beat.
Frist will wave the green flag to start the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race May 29 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.
Coca-Cola Consolidated spokesman Lauren Steele tells us the Memorial Day weekend classic - NASCAR's longest race, and one of the largest sporting events in the world with a crowd of nearly 200,000 - will pay special tribute to America's military "who are serving to protect our freedoms in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world."
NOT SO STUPID
The Watergate was the venue the other night for a book party in honor of nationally syndicated radio host Herman Cain, author of "They Think You're Stupid: Why Democrats Lost Your Vote and What Republicans Must Do to Keep It."
Among the more notable names on the RSVP list: Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.
It was in Georgia last year that Cain, who is black and never before sought public office, entered the U.S. Senate primary, surprising everybody by finishing a close second in the three-way race.
Otherwise, Cain is best known for the successful turnaround of Godfather's Pizza when serving as president and chairman of the restaurant chain.
One perk of the Professional Beauty Federation's educational evening for Congress in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday will be free haircuts for lawmakers and their staffs.
The federation expects a crowd of 800 to "receive services" while learning about issues affecting the $60 billion professional beauty industry.
Among members the visiting beauticians expect to clip and coif: Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican; Republican Reps. Mary Bono of California and Thelma Drake of Virginia; and Democratic Reps. Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Donald M. Payne of New Jersey and Grace F. Napolitano of California.
More important, the federation is highlighting several cosmetology bills before Congress, including one to amend the Internal Revenue Code to expand the tip tax credit to employers of cosmetologists and to promote tax compliance in the cosmetology sector.
In rallying Republicans on Capitol Hill, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, recalls the words of baseball great Babe Ruth:
"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."
"Drunk with power."
Or at least that's how Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada describes three top Republican leaders who have gotten downright fuddled in their "quest for absolute power" - namely President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and supposedly embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.
Staff at Yale University gave Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry $20 for every $1 they gave President Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign.
At Duke University, the ratio stood at $9 to $1. At Princeton University, a whopping $302 to $1 gap prevailed. Massachusetts Institute of Technology boasted a $43 to $1 Kerry-Bush disparity.
Basing its study, "Deep Blue Campuses," on Federal Election Commission records, the conservative Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program examined 25 of the nation's top universities. Every single one favored Kerry over Bush.
In fact, not a single employee of Dartmouth showed up in FEC records as having contributed to Bush.
We have very early word that the National Defense University Foundation has chosen a pair of highly decorated World War II veterans - Sens. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and Ted Stevens of Alaska - as 2005 recipients of the American Patriot Award, one of Washington's most prestigious honors.
The senators will join an exclusive class of Patriot winners, including former President George Bush, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.
Inouye, a Democrat, is recognized for "remarkable valor" when, as a 17-year-old high school student in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he immediately joined the Army. Fighting in Europe, he suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and a grenade blast that shattered his right arm.
Earning the Medal of Honor for bravery, he attended college and law school on the G.I. Bill, and in 1959 became Hawaii's first congressman and later the first Japanese-American elected to the Senate.
Stevens, a Republican, was a pilot in support of the "Flying Tigers" of the 14th Army Air Corps in the China-Burma-India theater. He received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals, and the Yuan Hai Medal awarded by the Republic of China.
NO MORE EXCUSES
"But if my mother-in-law Barbara Bush can swim a mile a day, the rest of us can walk for 30 minutes."
- First lady Laura Bush, encouraging women to exercise every day for 30 minutes.
The errant Cessna 152 that flew into restricted airspace over Washington last week, throwing everybody into a tizzy except President Bush, who wasn't alerted until after he completed his bike ride, generated considerable reader response.
Dr. Michel Emmer is one of several who says "So what?" if Mr. Bush wasn't bothered with the news: "I have never seen a more hysterical, stupid response than the evacuation 'drill' on Wednesday. Where . . . are the grown-ups?
"First, the risk of a small light plane doing any meaningful damage is remote. People would have been safer staying indoors rather than being herded like cattle by the hysterical (U.S.) Capitol Police (and) Secret Service, running for God's sake. It's a miracle that no one was trampled to death or fell and got injured."
A letter from Heather Shaw, meanwhile, reveals that former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton received a "rock star" welcome when they walked unannounced into the dining room of the Oceanaire Seafood Room on F Street NW last week. Oceanaire general manager Christine de Clerfay adds, "Of all the celebrity guests we've had dine with us, President Clinton and Muhammad Ali are the only two that have ever received standing ovations in our restaurant."
A STORY OF LOVE
That was Olga Hirshhorn celebrating her 85th birthday with 40 of her closest friends at K Street's Teatro Goldoni last week. The grande dame is best known for her lifetime commitment to art through the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
How did it all begin?
A Smithsonian Institution insider recalls the tale of how Olga met and married Joseph Hirshhorn. Actually, they met over the phone, when Mr. Hirshhorn was advertising for household help. Olga was running the employment firm.
"Hirshhorn soon called again, for a cook, then a maid, then another maid. He liked Olga's efficiency, her independence and her voice. He called her a lot, like 10 times a day," the story goes.
"One day he asked, 'Say, Mrs. Cunningham, how old are you?' She said she was 41, and came right back at him: How old was he?
"'Sixty-two,' he replied. Later he asked, 'Say, how tall are you?'
"'Five feet even,' she replied. This was fine with him: He was 5 feet 4."
The couple married in 1964.
"My life revolved around him," Mrs. Hirshorn said after her husband's death in 1981.
The National Music Publishers' Association and its president and CEO, David Israelite, are celebrating the grand opening of NMPA's Washington headquarters this month.
The headquarters here will better help the association guard the interests of songwriters and music publishers across the country - especially against pirates.
Earlier this year, for example, more than 27,000 songwriters and publishers, including legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier and the rock 'n' roll songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court charging Internet music companies with "facilitating copyright infringement on a massive scale."
PASS THE POPCORN
Make plans early to attend Sen. Tom Coburn's "safe-sex" slide show - "Revenge of the STDs" - at 11:45 a.m. Thursday, May 26, in Room HC-5 of the U.S. Capitol.
"As a practicing physician, I have seen the ravaging effects of . . . STDs first hand," the Oklahoma Republican writes to Hill colleagues. "I would therefore invite you, your staff and interns to join me for my 'safe' sex slide show. This presentation will be a frank, interactive medical forum about the emotional and physical consequences of the STD epidemic."
Elected to the Senate in November after serving three terms in the House, Mr. Coburn's other priorities include reducing wasteful spending, balancing the budget, improving health care access and affordability, and protecting the unborn.
In 2002, President Bush chose the doctor, a two-time cancer survivor who is married to a former Miss Oklahoma, as co-chairman of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
Viola Herms Drath and her husband, Albrecht Muth, both natives of Germany, welcomed guests to their Georgetown home with a bagpipe serenade as they hosted a dinner party last week to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-E Day.
Among the guests Drath serves on the executive committee of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy) were the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, retired Navy Rear Adm. Dr. Barry C. Black, and British Embassy military attache Brig. Edward John Torrens-Spence.
His father, the late Capt. Michael Torrens-Spence, was the hero of the Battle of Cape Matapan, hailed by Winston Churchill as the greatest British naval victory since Trafalgar, which opened southern Italy to Allied invasion.
Drath spoke of her own memories of V-E Day as a girl in Germany: "Germany had been liberated. The long nightmare was over. At last, freedom was within our grasp.
"Regrettably, my distinguished uncle, Ambassador Freddy Horstmann, who had sacrificed his diplomatic career on account of his marriage to the daughter of one of the country's leading Jewish banking dynasties, could not see the blooming of democracy in Germany.
"Although an ardent opponent of the Nazi regime, Freddy would fall victim to starvation in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp behind an emerging Iron Curtain."